A Winter Trek Through the Notch in Stowe
January 22, 2016
Route 108 through Smugglers’ Notch is known as one of the most scenic drives in Vermont, at least between May and October. But when the snow flies, a three-mile section of this scenic, winding road is closed to traffic.
That’s not to say that Route 108 between Stowe and Cambridge can’t be explored in the winter. In fact, Route 108—also known as the Notch—is a desirable spot for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice climbing, sledding, and hiking this time of year.
On Thursday, I went snowshoeing for a couple of hours through the Notch. I parked just past the main parking lot of Stowe Mountain Resort and trekked up Route 108. Since it was a weekday, I passed the occasional hiker but mostly had the Notch to myself.
A Wild History
It’s been several years since I’ve walked the Notch in winter, and I’ve forgotten what an entirely different experience it is in the snow. No cars, few people, and no leaves on the trees–giving you an entirely new perspective of the Notch’s jagged cliffs and rugged peaks. Off-road trails, including those that lead to The Long Trail, provide a more backcountry experience.
This area has an interesting history, too. Before Route 108 was built in the early 1920s, a footpath and horse trail crossed the Notch. Locals used the Notch to illegally transport goods to Canada in the 19th century, and alcohol was smuggled through the area during Prohibition.
These days, the area is wildly popular among locals and visitors in the summer and fall. But in the winter, the Notch is still something of a quiet paradise.
**If You Go: From Route 100 in Stowe, take Route 108 north and travel 7 miles to Stowe Mountain Resort. Parking is available just past the resort’s main parking lot.